The Yellow Wallpaper: Fighting the Oppression

The Yellow Wallpaper: Fighting the Oppression

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During the late 1800’s, the oppression of women was far too common, and while some women accepted this inequality, others realized the injustice and made the first steps to exposing the ugly truth and creating the society in which we live today: where single-sex dominance is frowned upon and equality is fought for publically and proudly. The author of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gillman, was one of these strong-headed women who, despite living amongst a society who knew no different, believed that a woman should be permitted to live her life alongside her husband-or alone if so chose- instead of under his reproachful stare and dominating thumb. She voiced this through the overwhelming symbolism threaded throughout “The Yellow Wallpaper,” choosing both animate and inanimate characters to each symbolically represent a piece of the oppression system.
The oppressive force is symbolized in the nature of the narrator’s husband, John. Nearly every mention of John is coupled with the details of his belittling her feelings of nervousness, and insisting that she is not sick and that a few months of bed rest would cure her of her nervous mind. His suggested cure screams oppression, recommending that she not do any sort of physical work or mental strain. John controls nearly every aspect of his wife’s life, including her daily leisurely activities; the narrator seems to enjoy writing, for instance, but when she hears her husband approaching she quickly puts her writings away, claiming, “There comes John, and I must put this away—he hates to see me write a word” (674). John often refers to her as a “little girl,” implying that she is a young child in need of care and guidance instead of the grown, fully capable woman that she ...


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... with the yellow wallpaper; she is, after all, not supposed to be writing, per her husband’s wishes, yet the entire story is told as if the narrator herself was writing it. Also, her husband asks that she nap throughout the day; while she does pretend that she is napping, so as to not catch scorn from her husband, she instead inspects the yellow wallpaper that surrounds her in an attempt to decipher it. As the story progresses
Throughout the story, Gillman intricately weaves the underlying meaning of “The Yellow Wallpaper” into every character and aspect that she introduces, and assigns a symbolic meaning to each.




Works Cited
Gillman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Legacies: Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Nonfiction. 4th ed. Eds. Jan Zlotnick Schmidt, Lynne Crockett, and Carley Rees Bagarad. Boltin: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009. 672-683. Print. 

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